Breast Cancer Prevention

Here’s an article I wrote in 2006 on breast cancer prevention for my local health food store’s newsletter, giving an overview of prevention strategies:

As mammals we are lucky. When we give birth to a helpless infant, our bodies have the nourishment to feed the child, without even having to go to the kitchen. Our breasts create milk. They are incredible organs. But why are so many women getting breast cancer? What can we do to prevent it?

There’s a lot of talk about breast cancer awareness, mammograms, and self-exams, but the focus is on detection of lumps once they have formed. It seems there’s not enough information in the mainstream about how to avoid the cancer in the first place. In this article you’ll find some suggestions on what women (and men) can do to decrease their risk of breast cancer.

As a New Leaf shopper, you must already know that what you eat has an effect on your health. Diets high in whole foods, live foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables are best for your body. Such foods are higher in antioxidants; vitamins like E and C, which help your immune system in fighting not only viruses and bacteria but also help neutralize free radicals. Eating high fiber foods helps keep your digestion efficient so toxins can be removed and your body has more energy to spend on immunity and cancer fighting. Drink plenty of water, and be wary of drinking out of plastic bottles. Many contain chemicals that leach into the water. Phthalate chemicals mimic estrogen and may cause reproductive cancers, including breast cancer.

Cancer cells pop up in our bodies on a regular basis, but a healthy immune system’s white blood cells will recognize the cells as foreign and will swiftly destroy them. Laughter has been shown to increase white blood cells and therefore your immune health, so laugh every day. If you don’t find reasons to laugh every day, try incorporating a minute of the yogic belly laugh into your routine. It’s a fake laugh, a hearty “Ho ho ho!” which sometimes evolves into a real laugh. If you are shy, do it in your car or when you are the only one at home.

The breasts are linked closely with the lymph glands at your underarms. The lymphatic system removes the toxins from the interstitial fluid in your cells. Lymph has no pumps so we must move muscles in order to get it flowing. Massage is a great way to move lymph. Incorporate breast massage into your daily routine. Yogic teachings suggest placing the breasts in the flow of a cold shower and massaging them there. The cold water is good for circulation.

There is a debate about whether antiperspirants contribute to the risk of breast cancer. As a massage therapist of nine years with deep understanding of anatomy and physiology, I believe that clogging your sweat pores and preventing release of toxins is harmful. The toxins will stay in nearby tissue, including your breasts. Switch to a deodorant that is free of antiperspirants, to be on the safe side.

Exercise is another way to get circulation of blood and lymph going. Do some aerobic exercise like walking. Add stretching to your life as well. Include arm movement because our modern lifestyles with our arms at our sides at the computer or at the steering wheel do not allow sufficient range of motion. Yoga and dancing are good full body exercises.

Speaking of modern lifestyles, electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) coming from electronic and motorized equipment are known to be disruptive to our health and contribute to tumor growth. So put down the gadgets and go for a walk or read a book.

The breasts are part of the heart chakra, the Yogic energy center in our bodies that is about love, forgiveness, and connecting with other humans. Strive to keep your heart open. Traditional Chinese Medicine says cancer is caused by stagnant chi (energy), so let go of bottled up grief or grudges. Find outlets for your emotions, like art, poetry, music or dancing.

Studies show that women who breast-feed have a lower chance of getting breast cancer, so if you plan to have a baby, ignore the formula company propaganda and breast-feed your child. The World Health Organization recommends it. Take pride in your mammalian nature, feeding your child the best food available for her. In the end it will benefit your whole family, increasing your likelihood to be around longer to enjoy your loved ones.

This is just an overview of ideas to prevent breast cancer. There are books available on the subject such as Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way by Susan S. Weed. This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, do more than the self-exam or the mammography; educate yourself and incorporate healthy habits into your life now.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Massage Your Boobies!

I have to be honest with you. When October comes, I don’t wear pink clothes or ribbons or even like to see the “pink-washing”, as some people call it today. I have doubts, huge doubts, that this pink campaign does anything to help prevent or cure breast cancer.

Yes, if you get a mammogram, or thermography, it can help you find cancer if you already have it. And perhaps the pink campaign gets some women to get checked when they hadn’t yet, or maybe weren’t planning on it.

But why isn’t there more emphasis on prevention????

I think one of the very biggest things you can do is increase circulation in and around your breast tissue. Massage your breasts, and massage them often. Massage will increase circulation of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the area, and sweeps away toxins. You will also increase movement in your lymphatic system, which has no pump of its own. Lymph is moved mostly by muscle movement or massage. Our breasts have a lot of lymphatic tissue in them, and there are many lymph glands in the underarm and along the sternum (breastbone).

According to Eastern therapies like Acupuncture and Shiatsu, stagnant energy and stagnant circulation can definitely lead to dis-ease in the body.

Now, imagine what happens when we spend 8, 12, maybe even 18 hours with our breasts squeezed into the confines of our bras. How good can the circulation be? Not good at all. The pressure will compress the tissue, compress the blood vessels, compress the lymph, such that circulation is limited. Do you ever reach a point during your day when you suddenly must take your bra off? Your breasts demand it? They’ve had enough, and they need to breathe. Remember, your blood carries oxygen to your breast tissue. Cancer does not survive well in oxygen. It survives better in acidic, stagnant tissue.

So, if you must wear a bra, and I know many of our more buxom sisters do need the support, wear one, but please, please massage your breasts. Massage them through your bra, which I am sure is best done in private in our culture. So, do it in the car, do it in the bathroom while you pee, do it walking around your house, just please do it.

And then, at the end of the day, take your bra off. Let those precious orbs of love and nurturing get some fresh air, or at least breathing room in your shirt. And massage them from above, below, and from the sides. Knead, glide, lift, move. Work on the pectoral

Blue Footed Booby in the Galapagos Islands

Blue Footed Booby in the Galapagos Islands

muscles on your chest as well. Massage them in the bath, in the shower, in bed, waiting for the teapot to boil, or waiting for your computer to power on. Love and appreciate them. Get your sweetheart involved. He or she will love to massage them for you, maybe even with a natural massage oil like olive or coconut. And, this is an “everybody wins” activity. So come on ladies, massage your boobies!